Deadheading and Pruning Container Plants

To make sure that flowering plants continue to bloom for a long time, and to keep shrubs and climbers healthy, prolific and in good shape, you need two techniques: deadheading and pruning. Both are quick, simple and highly effective.

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Pruning Deciduous Shrubs and Climbers

Make a downward-angled cut about 1/4-inch above a strong bud, with the base of the cut on the opposite side to the bud so water drains away from it. Try to cut above a bud pointing in the required direction. Where buds are opposite each other, make a straight cut above them.

1. Bougainvillea
2. Clematis
3. Hydrangea serrata
4. Weigela
5. Wisteria

The pruning cut on this clematis is just above a new shoot. Take care not to damage it (Image 1).

Prune mophead hydrangeas in spring, taking flowered stems down to healthy buds (Image 2).

Pruning Evergreens

Cut out any dead or unproductive stems right back to the base or to green shoots. Do not prune into old, brown lavender stems because they will not reshoot. Give a light all-over trim to regulate the shape. Remove any dead flowers.

1. Berberis
2. Elaeagnus pungens
3. Euonymus fortunei
4. Gaultheria mucronata
5. Mahonia
6. Pieris
7. Viburnum davidii

Carefully remove any dead growth in spring before the new growth develops (Image 1).

This mahonia's long, dominant stem is being cut back in spring to produce a better shape (Image 2).

Trimming Back Trailers

Trailers look most effective when they produce a bushy mass of long growth. To keep growth dense, regularly nip back the stem tips in the growing season to force buds lower down to shoot out. If a plant has become quite "leggy," with just a few lengthy, dangling stems, pinch or cut these back in spring to activate more buds lower down.

1. Campanula isophylla
2. Helichrysum petiolare
3. Lobelia erinus
4. Tropaeolum

Nip back the long flowering stems of shrubby, silver-leaved Helichrysum petiolare (Image 1).

Regular trimming in spring and summer helps the plant produce more trailing stems (Image 2).

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Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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